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June 9th COVID-19 Update

By growthzone | June 9, 2020

Gulf Power $300,000 Grant Allows UWF SBDC to Offer Second Round of Business Grants A second round of grants from the Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at the University of West Florida (UWF) will be available for eligible businesses impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to an additional $300,000 from Gulf Power through…

June 8th COVID-19 Update

By growthzone | June 8, 2020

Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act Signed into Law H.R. 7010, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Flexibility Act of 2020, was signed into law last week.   The Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act creates more flexibility for borrowers using PPP funds. The bill extends the time for businesses to use the funds from 8 to 24 weeks and…

June 3rd COVID-19 Update

By growthzone | June 2, 2020

77 Escambia County School Readiness Providers are Open and Have Availability Currently there are seventy-seven childcare providers contracted with the Escambia County Early Learning Coalition that have availability for children.  Click here to see the full list of providers with their phone numbers. For more information about school readiness resources go to   Moratorium…

June 2nd COVID-19 Update

By growthzone | June 2, 2020

Four Steps to Reopening Your Business Safely In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, many states have relaxed their stay-at-home orders and begun to reopen non-essential businesses. For business owners, this means navigating a new world of social distancing, face coverings and decreased in-store capacity as consumers slowly start to resume their “normal” lives. For…

June 1st COVID-19 Update

By growthzone | June 1, 2020

County Emergency Planners Prepare for Hurricane Season in the Age of COVID If a hurricane threatens the Gulf Coast this year, sheltering may be a little different in the age of COVID-19. Escambia County will open shelters if a named storm threatens the area, but county Emergency Manager Eric Gilmore said they will work as…

May 28th COVID-19 Update

By growthzone | May 28, 2020

Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday Begins Tomorrow The 2020 Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday begins Friday, May 29, 2020, and extends through Thursday, June 4, 2020. During this sales tax holiday period, qualifying items related to disaster preparedness are exempt from sales tax. However, the sales tax holiday does not apply to the rental or…

May 27th COVID-19 Update

By growthzone | May 27, 2020

New COVID-19 Testing Center Opened in Pensacola WHERE: Florida Department of Health in Escambia County-Downtown Center 1300 West Gregory Street, Pensacola, FL 32501 WHEN: OPEN 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. CT on the following dates: Wednesday, May 27 Thursday, May 28 Friday, May 29 Questions? Call the Florida Department of Health in Escambia County at…

May 26th COVID-19 Update

By growthzone | May 26, 2020

Florida Chamber Video Breaks Down Unemployment Numbers This video from the Florida Chamber breaks down state and regional unemployment numbers for April.  April’s unemployment rate for Escambia County was 12.8% and Santa Rosa County’s unemployment rate was 10.5%.  Over half the jobs lost in Florida in April were in the Leisure and Hospitality Sector.  Find…

May 21st COVID-19 Update

By growthzone | May 22, 2020

COVID-19 Drive-Thru Testing Now at PSC Warrington Campus A new coronavirus drive-thru testing site will open later this week at the Warrington campus of Pensacola State College as the Florida Department of Health in Escambia County works to ramp up its testing.The new site will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at PSC’s…

May 20th COVID-19 Update

By growthzone | May 20, 2020

Escambia County Short-Term Vacation Rental Plan Approved Escambia County received the official letter from Secretary Halsey Beshears with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation approving the short-term vacation rental plan that was submitted Friday, May 15.  This plan went into effect immediately and will be reviewed weekly. The county will continue to monitor…

Don Gaetz Believes the Gulf Coast Can Triumph

"But it’s not enough for Triumph and its private and public sector partners to produce thousands of new jobs if there aren’t thousands of Northwest Floridians qualified to fill them. That’s why Triumph is working with school districts and higher education institutions to reshape what is taught and how it’s taught in our schools. Triumph already is funding projects in six of our eight counties that will prepare 9,000 students to earn national industry certifications for the very jobs most needed in our region over the next decade." -Don Gaetz

The Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce was honored to support the University of West Florida in their appeal to Triumph to support their efforts to equip over 3,000 students to earn top-level certifications in cyber security and advanced manufacturing and supply chain logistics industry certifications. Through the Center for Cybersecurity, the Sea3D Additive Manufacturing Laboratory and the Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering UWF proposes to produce a minimum of 3,220 industry certifications that would provide career pathways to high paying jobs across the region.

Read more here...

Department Of Labor Issues Final Ruling on Overtime

Conversations begin in the Florida House Regarding Teacher pay increases

Effective January 1, 2020, the minimum salary threshold established by the Department of Labor for overtime eligibility will be set at $684 per week / $35, 568 annually.

More information about the final rule is available here..

Florida House’s committee on preK-12 education budgeting has begun conversations around the Governor's proposed salary increase for teachers of $47,500 - a total price tag of $603 million, annually. The committee is moving forward with caution, as raising taxes does not seem to be a viable option, however, they are hopeful they can find the funds in existing budgets.

Read more here...


The Board of Education prioritized its Public Education Capital Outlay plan, unanimously approving seven projects that are now in line to receive a combined $86.4 million in construction funding over the next three years - Pensacola state college made that list.

The Board of Education prioritized its Public Education Capital Outlay plan on Friday, September 20th, unanimously approving seven projects  which are in line to receive a combined $86.4 million in construction funding over the next three years.

Read more here...



Recent Progress in the Economy:

  • There were 2.3 million more workers in 2018 than 2017!
  • Workers are earning higher wages with increases by 3.4% from 2017 to 2018.
  • Poverty has declined by 0.5 percentage points to 11.8% which is 1.4 million fewer people in poverty.
  • Economic growth driven by tax reform and recent efforts of the current administration to reduce regulatory burdens are having a positive effect.

Positive outcomes from these results:

  • Workers are better able to support their families.
  • There are more available jobs; however, there are still more jobs than people, so workforce remains a major concern.

Gaps in The Economy That Must be Addressed

“The first is a skills gap – too many people lack the skills or credentials they need to compete for 21st century jobs. The second is a people gap – too many businesses can’t find the workers they need, when and where they need them. Businesses must be part of the solution. No single entity has a greater stake in the strength of our talent pool than the business community. We have the ideas, the innovations, and the incentive to drive change and create solutions.”, said U.S. Chamber CEO Donohue at the Talent Forward event earlier this year.

The Gaps

  1. Solutions for the Skills Gap
    1. Improving education and mandating increased school accountability, more choices for families, and improved collaboration among key stakeholders.
    2. Ensuring the annual $400 billion dollars of taxpayer money being invested in higher education will result into credentials and a return on investment back into the economy.
    3. The business community must ensure that local education institutions teach in-demand skills by implementing similar programs such as the Foundation Talent Pipeline Management Initiative
    4. Better access to quality childcare, as it is the foundation for basic skills and ability.
  2. Solutions for People Gap
    1. The opioid epidemic is a large contributor to the decline in working-age men in the workforce. We need to support public and private sectors working to address the issue in addition to supporting good public policy.

but fair process for the millions of undocumented people living in the U.S. to have the opportunity to earn a legal status.” This includes the “Dreamers” who came to the U.S. as children and Temporary Protected Status recipients.

  1. We must have good policy to produce good results!

Signs of Policy Uncertainty Is Negatively Affecting the Economy

“Amid all the talk of a possible recession, it’s important for everyone to remember this: Economic expansions do not die of natural causes. They often die because of missteps and policy mistakes. And the biggest mistake our leaders could make right now — putting our economy at greater risk of a downturn — is to stoke further uncertainty We’re calling on our leaders to eliminate the uncertainty, rebuild business confidence and keep this economy working for all Americans.” U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Donohue writes.

  1. “When leaders make decisions that foster certainty, businesses invest, hire, grow and better drive the economy in a positive direction.”
  2. Examples of the Effect of Fostering Certainty
    1. Unemployment rate has reached a generational low
    2. Employee compensation has risen 3.4% in the first half of 2019
    3. Inflammation remains near record lows
    4. Consumer spending is strong, and retail sales have beat the calculated expectations for the first half of the year.
  3. Examples of the Negative Effect from Not Fostering Certainty
    1. Increased trade tensions and softening of global economy

“The business community shares the administration’s concern over China’s trade and industrial practices, and the U.S. Chamber strongly supports efforts to secure a deal that addresses forced technology transfer, industrial subsidies, data privacy and intellectual-property protection, and market access. The initial tariffs have brought China to the negotiating table, but the current path of constant escalation doesn’t increase the likelihood of a deal; it risks a recession here at home.” – U.S. Chamber of Commerce

  1. Business investment has experienced its first decline in three years
  2. Manufacturing sector has been in a downturn for nine months
  3. Famers’ income has plummeted
  4. Investors have begun to panic over “inverted yield curves” in the bond market and wild swings in the stock market – typically key indicators a recession is coming.

The Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce Commitment

We know that neither growth nor a recession are guaranteed; however, both result from choices we make as a country. The Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce will be calling on our leaders to eliminate as much uncertainty in the economy’s future as possible by encouraging the introducing and supporting of logical tax reform and an increase in educational and workforce development resources. Together we can close these gaps and increase the business community’s confidence in the future, both near and long.


Sean Hackbarth, A Strong Economy Improves American’s Lives,” First Things First, (September 2019):